Ben Birchall & Thomas Birchall

2018 FIM Sidecar World Champion

Ben Birchall (Driver)
Born on 21 January 1977 in Mansfield, Great Britain

Thomas Birchall (Passenger)
Born on 23 December 1986 in Mansfield, Great Britain

BIRCHALLS BOUNCE BACK

British brothers Ben and Tom Birchall (LCR-Yamaha) left it late to defend the FIM Sidecar World Championship they had won at a canter in 2017, overhauling a 51-point deficit to compatriots Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes (Adolf RS Yamaha) in the final three races of the season.

Up until the penultimate round in Croatia it had been a near perfect season for Reeves and Wilkes, who had only failed to make the top two steps of the podium in one race, but the entire season flipped on its head for both pairs at the penultimate round at the Grobnik circuit.

A sensational double victory for the Birchalls, including a new lap record, coincided with a disastrous pair of DNFs for Reeves and Wilkes, who had an engine breakdown in the Sprint race and then ran off track in the Gold Cup race, sucking something into their engine and forcing it to stop again.

The Birchalls, who made history as the first FIM Sidecar World Champions of the post-1000cc era in 2017, were now just one point behind their fellow Brits going into the single-race final round at Oschersleben, and with the Finnish pairing of 2016 champion Pekka Päivärinta and rookie passenger Jussi Veräväinen a further fifteen points down, the scene was set for a three-way title showdown in Germany.

However, it was Ben and Tom who had the momentum and they took the championship in comprehensive style, claiming pole position, the race win and another new lap record to secure overall success in one of the closest championships for years. Meanwhile, second place for Päivärinta and Veräväinen combined with another no-score for Reeves and Wilkes, leapfrogging the Finns into the runner-up position.

PALMARES

3 World titles – 2009, 2017, 2018
F2 World trophy - 2016

2017 FIM Sidecar World Champion

BIRCHALLS BACK ON TOP

British brothers Ben and Tom Birchall (LCR-Yamaha) made history as the first FIM Sidecar World Champions of the post-1000cc era in 2017, comfortably holding off the challenge of last year's champions Pekka Paivarinta and Kirsi Kainulainen (LCR-Honda) with victory in all but the final race of the season.

Reaping the rewards of their decision to race a 600cc outfit in 2016, when they lifted the F2 World Trophy for the smaller machines, the 2009 FIM Sidecar World Champions signaled their intent from the opening round at Le Mans, where they took pole position and set a new lap record on their way to a dominant win.

With double points up for grabs in round two at Oschersleben the pair were doubly effective, again taking pole position and a lap record as they cruised to victory in both the sprint and gold races to open up a fifteen-point advantage over their Finnish rivals, who were second each time. The result pattern continued at round three in Hungary, where the Birchalls again took the full set of pole, lap record and a double win, and in a single race at Assen.

The determination of the Finns meant that Ben and Tom still only held a 30-point advantage going into the final round – another double-header in Croatia - and despite conceding the holeshot to Paivarinta and Kainulainen in the ten-lap sprint race, the Birchalls quickly recovered to seal the title with a seventh win from seven. A rear tyre puncture that caused them to crash out of the gold race did nothing to deflate the celebrations.

PALMARES
2 World titles – 2009, 2017
F2 World Trophy - 2016

Pekka Päivärinta & Kirsi Kainulainen

2016 FIM Sidecar World Champions

Driver Pekka Päivärinta: Born on 11 January 1971 in Helsinki, Finland.

Passenger Kirsi Kainulainen: Born on 23 November 1985 in Lisalmi, Finland.

PEKKA PICKS A PERFECT PARTNER

The long history of the FIM Sidecar World Championship reached a watershed chapter in 2016, with the final year of 1000cc racing. This was also to go down in the annals as the first season to see not only a female Grand Prix winner but also a female World Champion, thanks to passenger Kirsi Kainulainen and her male driver Pekka Paivarinta (BMW LCR). The Finnish pair clinched the title thanks to a podium-perfect campaign that began at the first of nine rounds, at a rain-soaked Le Mans, where they came second to Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze (Yamaha LCR).

The Anglo-French pairing had some technical issues after that, but fought their way back by the final round at Donington Park. However, their victory at the British circuit was not enough to deny the Flying Finns with their perfect partnership, who took a safe second to clinch a memorable first title together.

The French pairing of Sebastien Dellanoy and Kevin Rousseau (Suzuki LCR), who joined the World Champions on the podium no fewer than six times, were worthy third-place finishers. With the 2017 season set to welcome in a new 600cc era, the face of the FIM Sidecar World Championship has already been changed forever.

PALMARES

Pekka Päivärinta (Driver) (FIN) – FIM Sidecar World Champion
5 Sidecar World titles (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016)

Kirsi Kainulainen (Passenger) (FIN) – FIM Sidecar World Champion
1 Sidecar World title (2016)